In the past year, the progress of the Indian economy has been defined primarily by the implementation of a single economic reform: the Goods and Services Tax (GST). As this reform completes one year of existence, industries across the country have looked to adapt their functioning in order to maximize GST’s potential for business impact. Among the industries most disrupted by this reform, retail stands out as one of the more successful sectors, especially in the domain of kirana stores.
The boon of digitization
Kirana stores today account for as much as 85% of retail outlets in the country, with a concurrent share of retail transactions. Given this scenario, it was imperative that kirana stores continue to adapt to a changing market and the implementation of GST was the required catalyst to do so. The past year has seen rapid digitization in the space, with the influx of a host of digital solutions to enable retail outlets to improve customer engagement, supply chain management and enhanced billing efficiency as well as inventory management. Digital solutions deployed at the kirana stores enabled store owners to navigate the financial aspect of GST implementation by simplifying the process of filing returns. All these elements have helped kirana stores compete with larger supermarkets and modern trade in a dynamic world and, in the process, have also enabled a smooth transition into a post-GST era of retail.
Shift in retail focus
The most significant change triggered by this digitization move (where GST implementation too played a role) has been the shift away from merely demand and supply to a more customer experience-focused outlook to kirana retail. Equipped with comprehensive store management digital tools, shop owners now able to create a virtual supermarket out of their small-to-medium physical stores. Digital additions like automated billing processes and the creation of a ‘black-box’ of data to be mined for insights now allows kirana stores to customize and offer superior shopping experience to individual customers. Technology has now allowed stores to send push notifications that are tailored to customers based on their buying behavior. This enables greater more interaction between the customers and the store as well as building a sense of loyalty to the outlet, all factors that help in the growth of kirana stores. Additionally, the implementation of GST has reduced the presence of unbranded products in the market, thereby adding another set of advantages for these stores in terms of fostering brand loyalty in association with the point of purchase.
Post digitization wave, kirana stores have made great strides towards regaining their position in the retail market in India. The gap between traditional and modern retail outlets has begun to close as digital technology helps stores to build their capability to compete in the market. Customer engagement has seen a distinct uptick over the year and evolving technology now presents the opportunity for further growth and innovation. The retail space has truly become more customer friendly (which has been their core strength historically) among the tech savvy young customers and the ability of kirana stores to compete represents great potential for the industry in the future. Thanks to the Digitization drive that has made it all possible!